Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Commodores Perform Funk Hit "Fancy Dancer" Live On The Midnight Special

Here's a great clip of the Commodores performing their bodacious funk hit "Fancy Dancer" live on the late-night music variety show The Midnight Special back in 1976. The band was at its funk pinnacle here. The performance is incredibly tight: The bass, horns, drums, vocals, keyboards and guitar are all clicking like a well-oiled funk motor. The groove has an almost seductive flow. You can envision the fancy dancer in the song doing her thing on the dance floor.

I've always felt that "Fancy Dancer" was kind of underrated. I think it's significantly funkier than their signature dance smash "Brick House," another one of the band's funky odes to a sexy woman. The funk is just nastier and rawer on "Fancy Dancer" in my opinion. It's a sick track, and the power of its funk can't be denied.

And it's cool to see Lionel Richie getting waist-deep in the funk with a gritty, sweat-stained performance. People sometimes forget that Richie could funk with the best of them before he left the Commodores in 1982 to embark on an incredibly successful solo career as a polished pop/soul balladeer. In his solo career, he left the funk far behind, which was probably the savvy thing to do from a business standpoint. The genre's popularity was on the decline around that  time, so he utilized his considerable gifts as a ballad writer. That gift shot him from stardom to superstardom. Nonetheless, I still missed him as the Commodore's front man. Richie and the crew made a great unit.

However, I do like a lot of the stuff that Richie recorded as a solo artist, but I still prefer his work with the Commodores. Plus, in addition to the funk tracks, he recorded some pretty amazing ballads while he was a member of the band, including "Easy," "Sail On" and "Three Times a Lady."

"Fancy Dancer" is from the Commodore's fourth studio album Hot on the Tracks (1976). It was written by Richie and Ronald LaPread, who was the bassist for the Commodores. The track had a strong showing on the charts. It reached #9 on the R&B charts, #39 on the pop charts, and #33 on the dance charts.

Downlad Studio Version Fancy Dancer at Amazon

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